Navigating the AI and Sustainability Frontier: A Roadmap for Board Members

Board members need to actively guide and govern the use of AI for sustainability, focusing on operational capability, innovation, ethics, compliance, and accountability, in order to address the opportunities and challenges of artificial intelligence and promote sustainability globally.

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology and sustainability, artificial intelligence (AI) stands out as both a beacon of potential and a field of complexity. The Boards Impact Forum, in collaboration with the Directors Institute Finland and Boardman, Finland, hosted an enlightening webinar that delved deep into the role of board members in harnessing AI for sustainability. The event was a crucible of ideas, showcasing how boards can navigate the challenges and opportunities AI presents in pursuit of global sustainability goals.

The webinar was facilitated by Leena Linnaimaa, Secretary General at Directors’​ Institute Finland, and included presentations on

  • Research Insights on Boards Leadership of AI, by Fernanda Torre, Operations Director at Boards Impact Forum, CEO of Next Agents and Teacher at SSE, Digoshen et al., co-author of “AI Leadership for Boards – the Future of Corporate Governance”
  • Future Ready Businesses incl AI, by Stephanie Woerner, Academic Director at MIT CISR, Researching digital transformation & AI with a consortium of 75 leading companies, board & executive trainer, author of several books incl Future Ready; Four pathways to Capturing Digital Value, Researching Leaders & Boards guidance of digital, Ai and Sustainability

And it was followed by comments by the panelists 

  • Tuomas Syrjänen, Founder Futurice, NED with Secure, FlowTechnologies, Vaisala, Taaleri et al,
  • Ingrid Stenmark, Professional NED at Eurofiber, Transtema, Combilent, Truecore, Myrspoven et al, business advisor incl guidance and revisits of the European AI Act
  • SJ Price, leads the AI practice as a partner at Stirling & Rose, a first of a kind boutique law firm and policy institute specialising in the dynamic intersection between the law and emerging technology.  

The participants then discussed in breakout rooms on the topic of using AI for good, followed by feedback and interview of panelists by  Liselotte Engstam, Chair Boards Impact Forum, Chair & NED at 4 listed & 3 private companies, co-author of “AI Leadership for Boards – the Future of Corporate Governance”

Mobilizing Boards for Action

From the onset, the webinar underscored a crucial message: mobilizing board directors globally to enhance their guidance on AI for sustainability. This involves not only addressing climate change but also grappling with the broader opportunities and challenges AI presents, including data protection and ethical considerations. The webinar called for boards to be proactive in posing relevant questions to CEOs and managers, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of AI’s implications.

Boards Leadership of AI Research Insights 

In addition to revisting the Boards own competence and role, boards needs to balance the Guiding of AI Operational Capabilities with the Supervision of AI Governance. The inisghts shared from an academic research highlighted three areas within the the guiding and supervision areas, as illustrated in the chart and shared by Fernanda Torre; 

The webinar distilled several guiding principles for board members:

– Operational Capability and Innovation: Boards are urged to guide AI’s operational capability and innovation, focusing on data strategy, AI-based innovation, cybersecurity, and the ethical considerations of AI deployment.

– Supervision of Ethics, Compliance, and Accountability: The importance of addressing AI from an ethical standpoint, ensuring compliance with emerging regulations like the EU AI Act, and prioritizing stakeholder trust and accountability was emphasized.

Addditionally it was found that increasingly temporary committees to be used to ensure the structured and competent implementation of AI strategies for sustainability was recommended as a best practice.

Future Readiness and Ethical Data Use

The next part of the webinar delved into how firms are adapting to become future-ready through digital transformation and AI, with a focus on innovation, cost reduction, and the ethical use of data. Stephaine Woerner from MIT Sloan highlighted that companies are taking different approaches and are at various stages in their AI journey, with many still exploring the potential of generative AI for sustainability.

Leadership, Transparency, and Innovation

The presenters Toumas, Ingrid and SJ concluded with a call for companies to empower leadership, adopt AI technologies, prioritize transparency, and foster an innovation ecosystem. This approach is essential for companies aiming to achieve above-average profitability and revenue growth while maintaining ethical standards and sustainability goals.

A Unified Approach to AI and Sustainability

The webinar was a clarion call for boards to actively guide and govern the use of AI for sustainability. This entails upskilling, embracing uncertainty, and fostering a shared understanding of AI within organizations. By doing so, boards can ensure that their companies not only navigate the challenges of AI but also harness its potential to drive sustainability forward.


In conclusion, the webinar illuminated the critical role of board members in steering their organizations towards a sustainable future through the strategic use of AI. By focusing on operational capability, innovation, ethics, compliance, and accountability, boards can address the multifaceted challenges and opportunities presented by AI, promoting sustainability on a global scale.

See the webinar recording   

Learn More 

Unlocking the Potential of Generative AI: Business Strategies and Insights by Futurice

It pays to have a digitally savvy board by Woerner, Weill and Banner 

Is your company seizing your digital value  by Woerner, Weill and Sebastian

Future Ready: The Four Pathways to Capturing Digital Value  by Woerner, Weill and Sebastian

Boards AI Leadership Book by Teigland, Torre and Engstam

For Board members, consider joining;

Generative AI and Boards Mar 5

Mats Agervi, CEO Combinet (repr 35 large Nordic Co) share insights on companies and boards integration of Ai and Benete Sollid Storeghaug will share insisghts on bords role in AI and digital transformation.

Boards Oversight of Responsible AI for Value Creation Mar – May

Board Program tailored specifically for board members, focusing on the strategic governance of AI and big data. This virtual and online program offers a unique blend of online modules, webinars with experienced NEDs, live peer exchanges, and personalized reflection plans, practicing and simulating with AI support, all designed to empower board directors in navigating the complexities of the digital age and elevate your boardroom expertise with cutting-edge insights into AI governance. 

Other relevant Blogposts 

AI and Innovation is set to Skyrocket Market Value, Transform Industries and Impact Sustainability

Nordic Companies: Pioneering the Future of Global Business and Governance

Risk, Opportunity and strategic integration including AI

About Boards Impact Forum

This blogpost is originally shared at the blog of of Digoshen,

Events arranged by Boards Impact Forum in collaboration with World Economic Forum (Non Profit Board Network, partnering with Board Networks , INSEAD Corporate Governance CentreDigoshen and Next Agents )  

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